Here are a few thoughts on the recent New York SAFE Act decision, which was challenged, and largely upheld by the United States District Court for the Western District of New York. Of note was the courts decision to strike down the seven round limit as “arbitrary”. While that has been clear to all but the authors of this bill for quite some time, the effect of this judgment (the most recent federal interpretation of the second amendment) has granted wide powers to the state of New York to impose severe restrictions on the rights of its citizens via the New York SAFE Act. Specifically, it establishes federal precedent for the the following, which are constitutional issues:
– Registration of all privately owned weapons does not constitute infringement.
– Capacity limitations do not constitute infringement – or at least 10 rounds is acceptable, however a 7 round restriction is considered unreasonable.
– Limitations on arbitrary cosmetic appearance features, like pistol grips have now been found to constitute a reasonable threat to public safety due to their association with mass murders and their restriction does not constitute infringement.
– 10/30 round magazines, which can be “easily converted”, constitute a reasonable threat to public safety and their restriction does not constitute infringement.
– Requiring all ammunition must be transferred via a face to face transaction involving state licensed ammunition dealer does not violate interstate commerce clauses.
We can debate the legal methodology and mechanisms by which the decision to uphold the New York SAFE Act was arrived at. There may even be some elements of the decision (and I believe there are), which will be overturned in the appeal. From a legal perspective, what this supports is the expansion of the mishmash of laws across the states and counties (and cities in the case of New York City and a few others). We now have precedent that sets the standard the above are prudent restrictions on the Second Amendment, and state governments have the power to make these decisions.
You can expect lobbying at the city and country level across this nation to begin in earnest by the gun control lobby. Their impact in California was only salvaged largely by the Governor Jerry Brown’s veto of a number of CA bills that would have resulted in similar, and in some cases, more restrictive laws. Now that states have a federal benchmark, you can expect this financial support from the gun control lobby to push their agenda to the lowest level possible. The financial burden of fighting these ineffective laws will be astronomical.
This is the case for federal legislation, defining the constitutional parameters of gun ownership in the country. If we do not accomplish a federal standard, we will see the restriction and erosion of gun rights across this nation, one city at a time. The complexity of the ensuing system will make it simply impractical to carry a firearm to the range in the next county or city, if this is allowed to continue unchecked.
In short the key failing here is not that the New York SAFE Act is going to be imposed on the citizens of New York largely as written (although that is certainly a failure). The key issue here is the establishment of federal precedent giving states the ability to determine what constitutes infringement on a case by case basis.
You can read the legal decision upholding the New York SAFE Act here. His references include a resurfacing of many of the provisions in United States v. Miller. Specifically seeming to indicate that past interpretations that individual ownership of firearms was not provided for in the Second Amendment are more accurate. This was found to be unconstitutional (by a narrow margin) in District of Columbia v. Heller. The more recent case law clearly establishes the right to own firearms an individual one. Chief Judge Skretny clearly does not support that interpretation, and has cherry picked a number of phrases and sentences from existing case law in finding a means to support the New York SAFE Act.
For more reading you can find the study by Chris Koper, 1994, which is continually referenced in the finding. Mr. Koper does a much better job of expressing the limitations of his findings in his writing. The courts decision largely ignore the limitations, and actually reference the top estimates of statistical validity in study. Once again, the piecemeal approaches to attacking the underpinning of the finding are important and must be pursued.
It is invalidating the approach of attacking the second amendment one city at time is what we need to pursue federal legislation to accomplish.